Sports Stars Who Took Up Running After Retiring
Trail running and marathon running are some of the toughest endurance events a person can take part in as they challenge both the mind and fitness levels of the runner. It is no wonder that many athletes have looked to test themselves and see if they can transfer their elite training to complete an endurance run. In this article we look at three stars that started to run seriously after finishing their chosen sport.
Roger Craig – Football
As a seasoned trail runner will know runners come from all sorts of backgrounds. The same applies to sports stars who have run marathons and other events. Competitor.com reports that former 49ers running back legend Roger Craig has completed many marathons and half marathons since retiring. According to the site, Craig explained the thrill of running by saying “you come across that finish line, they drape that medal around your neck and you are relieved. You did it. No one helped you.” Anyone who has competed a marathon or trail run will know that feeling. Craig is also co-founder of the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
Francis Benali – Soccer
Ex-Premier League and Southampton soccer player Francis Benali is doing his own type of trail running. The former soccer player completed a 1000-mile journey running and cycling to every UK Premier League and Championship soccer stadium in the country over the course of two weeks in 2016. The soccer star completed the run in aid of Cancer Research and told the BBC that he runs for the charity because “the disease has not gone away and the charity still needs funds as desperately as ever.” The star defender made over 300 appearances in the Premier League for his club Southampton who would probably like him back right now, as soccer site Betfair report that the club has suffered back-to-back defeats in England’s top division over the past few weeks. Benali was known for his resilience and never say die attitude, which is probably why he’s such as good runner even at the age of 48. The Southampton-born ex-professional has certainly translated that toughness into all of his recent pursuits upon retiring from soccer.
Since retiring from baseball Eric Byrnes has become an endurance runner. Last year Byrnes created a documentary around his journey from retired baseball player to ultra-marathon runner called Diamond to the Rough which premiered at the Monarch Film Festival in San Francisco and won the Judges’ Choice award. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle about his transition to becoming an extreme endurance runner Byrnes said “I thought would make a fool of myself – and I did. My first triathlon, I was smoked by two girls and a dude I grew up with…it was incredibly challenging.” Byrne’s couch Franze Dill told the paper that he explained to Byrnes that “there’s only one thing you have know, and that is, you have to be willing to be mediocre. It must be hard to be a professional athlete and be watched by everyone and expect to excel – but in ultra-running, you can be beaten by a 75-year-old woman or man because of the distance.” Since that first race Byrnes has completed iron man races and triathlons. As any runner and trail runner will know running is one of the few sports that you are able to improve as you get older.